MacNean Christmas Ham with Sticky Apricot and Ginger Glaze


  • 5¼kg (11oz) leg of gammon (on the bone)
  • 4 celery sticks, roughly chopped
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 5cm (2in) piece fresh ginger, cut into slices
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 2 star anise
  • 1.5 litres (2 ¾ pints) cider

For the glaze:

  • 100g (4oz) light muscovado sugar
  • 175g (6oz) apricot jam or conserve (good quality)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 star anise
  • 4 pieces preserved stem ginger, cut into small matchstick sized strips
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 200ml (7fl oz) red wine
  • 100ml (3 ½ fl oz) balsamic vinegar
  • 50g (2oz) light muscovado sugar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


A traditional ham is the perfect choice if you’ve got hoards of visitors to feed so it’s especially good to have over the festive period. A certain crowd pleaser, it tastes equally good served hot or cold. Have you ever wondered what the difference is between ham, bacon and gammon? Bacon is cured pork; gammon is a hind leg cut of bacon and once this particular cut is cooked, it is called ham. Any leftovers from this ham or your turkey can be used in countless other dishes, such as my Filo-Crusted Ham, Cheddar & Leek Pie – even the bone will make a wonderful stock. Although gammon is less salty nowadays, soaking is still a good idea. Place the gammon in a large pan and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for at least 6 hours or overnight is best, then drain. Preheat the oven to 120C (225F), Gas Mark ½. Use a large deep roasting tin with a rack that’s big enough to hold the ham. Put the celery, onions, ginger, peppercorns and star anise in the tin and pour over the cider, then put the rack on top. Sit the ham on the rack and cover with a large tent of foil, sealing it well. Put on the hob over a high heat and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes, then transfer to the oven. Cook for 12 hours or overnight – you can now leave it for 1-2 days before finishing the recipe. Alternatively leave to rest and cool down for at least 30 minutes. Pre heat the oven to 180C (350F), Gas mark 4. Now make the glaze. Put the sugar in a small pan with the apricot jam or conserve, lemon juice and star anise. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, then add the stem ginger and star anise and simmer for 3-4 minutes or until reduce to a thick glaze, stirring occasionally to ensure it doesn’t catch at the bottom. If you think it has become too thick and sticky, then add a tablespoon of water to loosen it out. Carefully peel away the skin, leaving the layer of white fat intact. Using a sharp knife, score the fat with a small serrated knife to make a diamond pattern, being careful not to cut into the meat. Brush all but a couple of spoonfuls of the glaze all over the ham, distributing the stem ginger strips and star anise. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour until golden and sticky. Remove the cooked ham from the oven, transfer to a serving platter and leave to rest for 15-20 minutes. To serve, carve slices from one side of the ham, cutting diagonally to achieve an even thickness. When you reach the bone, insert the knife at a flatter angle and slice across the top of the bone. Turn over the leg to carve slices from the other sides. Caramelised Onion Relish This onion relish can be used in so many different ways and it will keep happily for up to a month in the fridge. We get through a lot of it in the restaurant and at home I just love having it over the festive season with cold ham or turkey or as part of a cheese board. Makes about 450g (1lb) Heat the olive oil in a large pan and cook the onions on a gentle heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft but not browned. Stir in the garlic and sugar and then pour in the red wine and balsamic vinegar. Cook gently for about 35-40 minutes until thickened and sticky, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Store the onion relish in an airtight container or sterilised jar in the fridge and use as required. Watch the video of Neven cooking this recipe on YouTube